The EWU men’s rugby club played against returning alumni players in a special game to end the year on Saturday. Despite the alumnus team having extra players on the field at times, the alumni fell to Eastern 44-14.
“[This game] is like a season-ender, and to keep that tie [to the alumni]. Our hope is that maybe someday we’ll have some money come back from the alumni to keep us going and building,” said coach Ian Martin. “I think we’ve got a really good team right now. It’s been built on the shoulders of the alumni over the past seven or eight years that we’ve been going as a club.”
Jarvis Lunalo, a player for the current Eastern team, said, “We’re bonding with the alumni. It’s like old school versus new school.”
The game started off with a breakaway run and Brendan Rannow getting his “zulu,” or first try, of the season.
Alumnus Casey Willis made the first points for the alumni team, which was quickly followed by a trick play resulting in another try for Eastern.
At halftime, the alumni team challenged the current players to a foot race, which turned out to be rigged. The alumni traded the other team’s rugby ball with a ball filled with concrete.
The second half of the game resulted in zulus for Eastern’s Zac Hearron, Jarvis Lunalo and Jake Hammon.
Some of the alumni continue to play rugby on other men’s teams while a few others only play once a year in the alumni game.
Alumnus Mark Shearer flew back to Spokane to visit while he had the chance. “I just came back to say hi. This was my only opportunity to come back to see them all,” he said
Allen Rowland, the original founder of the club, looks forward to more alumni games in future years. “Casey Willis started the tradition of the alumni coming back, and I’m glad he did — Camaraderie, seeing everybody again every year, seeing how fat everybody gets. … We didn’t even warm up before this match.”
Martin said, “It’s nice just to have these guys back so they can see where we’re at, where the club that they started is going.”